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Posts Tagged ‘way of God’

Pilate washes handsWhether it was sending Jesus cross town to Herod (since Jesus was a Nazarene and in Herod’s district) or offering the crowd an opportunity to voice vote and release Jesus or just washing his hands of the entire event or sending a guard to seal the tomb of Jesus’s internment, Pilate did everything he could to avoid responsibility for Jesus’s death. Whatever happened, whatever Pilate had heard or feared, he did not want the buck to stop anywhere close to him. He was the consummate politician.

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” [Matthew 17:24, NIV]

not my faultProtecting ourselves from blame is a very common and contemporary habit. So often, people want to lay the cause for their troubles elsewhere, whether it’s their parents, their environment, or their limitations. If only, they think, if only things would have been different, I could have succeeded.

I heard someone say, just yesterday, “every time I try to do the right thing, it goes wrong for me.” As though the very act of doing “right” brings about doom and gloom. For them, living life is one streak of bad luck after another.

hard roadBut this is not the way of God. There are some paths that must be walked whether they are difficult or not. Jesus could have avoided crucifixion if he really wanted to; he had the power to escape. But for the sake of humanity and the fulfillment of prophecy, this was the way he had to go. Even his disciples dried to stop him and Jesus rebuked them.

God does not promise an easy road, merely that we will not have to walk it alone.

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Words are compelling. They can change someone’s mind or lock in a point of view; they can soothe or they can motivate to action; they can break a heart or heal. Words create and words destroy. Depending on the wielder of those words and the interpreters, meaning can go either way.

I Timothy 6:4b-5a
“. . . He [one against the message of the Christ] has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men, . . . ”

Currently, there is quite the controversy over the book, Love Wins, by Rob Bell. Perhaps by now, a few of the attackers of this book have actually read it, but I have a feeling that their minds are made up about the author and will read into those words what they believe are true. In response, they have added more words that are even more controversial, like heretic and apostate and “universalist.” These words are highly charged and challenge anyone who might want to agree with Rob Bell’s proposition as being in equal danger. Each day, I google Rob’s name and his book to find additional essays and points of view. Today, I discovered a well crafted essay from Richard J. Mouw, the President of Fuller Theology, who called Bell’s book one of salvific generosity or a generous orthodoxy, a term popularized by Brian McLaren some years ago (also a controversial author).

And so the battles rage about words and more words. Some are determined to “protect the faith” and some are equally determined to take grace to its limits, expanding the faith.

I am not a theologian nor do I have any authority to speak either way really, except by personal experience. I have written about my mother before who died at 91, in full dementia, and after a long life of mental instability, bitterness, and hardness of heart. But, when it came time for the end of her life, love was there and she had a specific experience of seeing the Christ. How could that be? How could God break through that cloud of confusion? Because, love can win. That love came through me, my husband, my children, my church family, my friends, and my neighbors. That love was three-dimensional, yes, but I believe it was also supernatural.

There is potential for recognition of the Way at any point in a life. We will never know.

When I give my own testimony of how God reached into my own soul, I am always reminded that several people who had known me before my revelation would say, “You? You are a Christian? You are LAST person I would think would ever do that.” And so it was, that I was the last person, like the woman who washed Jesus’s hair with her tears. And so, among the terrorists and killers, the child molesters and liars, the idolaters and the prisoners, I am there too. We are all among the last. And what words are there for us?

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I just realized I’ve been confusing God’s gifts with God’s tools.

Romans 11:29
For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.] [Amplified]

The parable of the talents has always been a challenge for me as I thought of those talents as gifts (like intelligence, creativity, good health, etc.) [Matthew 25:14-30] And how important it has been for me to invest these talents wisely that they may bring forth fruit. Obviously, I don’t want to be the one-talent guy who gets the outer darkness treatment.

But as I pondered verses 11:28-29, I realized the talent parable is not about irrevocable gifts. It’s about “tools” that God gives to help us accomplish whatever is laid out before us. He gives challenges and he gives equipment.

But the irrevocable gifts are wrapped up in “call.” This truth is foundational from the times of Noah and Abraham. The covenants of God are eternal. We will not be destroyed and if we accept the call to God Presence within, that gift is also eternal.

I have been too centered on what my senses can experience and not given enough place to the spirit. This is where the words of eternity have meaning. This is where faith can grow. This is where assurance, trust, and hope find root.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Alleluia. Amen.

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Psalm 37:7
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Things are whirling about me… tensions, concerns, fears. The woes of our economy have reached into my personal life as our organization faces lay-offs, furloughs, and a branch closing. Lives will be changed; dreams will be shattered; hope will be challenged.

I am a little ashamed that I have found myself talking and talking and talking about what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen in the days ahead. Talking, talking, talking. Mostly. Not really praying.

I have not been listening… at least, I haven’t been listening in the quiet place, the secret place. I have been just a “sounding gong and clanging cymbal” [I Corinthians 13:1]. I have given my opinion, my interpretations, my gut feel, my take, my understanding, my inside information, and so on…

Today, I heard only one thing in my prayer time: Be Quiet!

When we speak in the silence unnecessarily, we cannot hear. And if we cannot hear, we cannot act in God’s will, only our own.

In Ecclesiastes, there is a long list about the timing of everything including speaking: (vs. 7b) “…a time to be silent and a time to speak, …”

Oh, may the remaining part of this day be transformed. Keep me mindful of these words: “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” [Proverbs 21:23]

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